‘Not an accused rapist’ is not the standard by which we should measure our leaders.
Minnesota Sen. Al Franken has told the nation in an extraordinary address that he will resign from the Senate in coming weeks. The dramatic announcement Thursday came after eight women accused him of sexual misconduct ranging from groping in photo lines to forcible kisses, and amid an avalanche of calls for his resignation by his Democratic Senate colleagues.
Republicans have adopted the talking point that Democrats only called for Franken to resign so they could gain the moral high ground to bash Republicans when Roy Moore wins the Alabama Senate race next week, as is widely expected.
Which raises the question: Is there something wrong with the moral high ground?
What twisted times we live in that this is an actual argument. It’s also not based on any facts. A person with direct knowledge of how Democrats came to call en masse on Franken to resign told me the decision was driven by female Democratic senators who believe the accusers against Franken. Because they like and respect Franken, they gave him the space to do the right thing, but were growing increasingly aggravated with his refusal to take responsibility and to resign. When the sixth accuser came forward, they agreed it was time to apply public pressure.
But even if the Democrats were taking the moral high ground for the wrong reason, that would hardly excuse Republicans for refusing to take a stand against the credibly accused predators in their own party, from Donald Trump to Roy Moore to Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold (who used taxpayer dollars to pay an $84,000 sexual harassment settlement to his former communications director).
Some Republicans say it’s different because Franken admitted his wrongdoing, while Trump and company deny all accusations against them. This is false. The only thing Franken has admitted to is a lewd photograph (which would be hard to deny). As for the other accusations, he has variously said he doesn’t remember them; or if he does, he remembers them differently, or he has flat out denied them. He said that again Thursday. But Democratic senators have…